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The Liberty Continuum

A Healthy Society

Man is born naked into the world... Isn't that how Murray Rothbard put it? If we look at the world as a subjective reality then we only see the individual and his environment. The rest of humanity is all just another aspect of that environment.

However, when we start to discuss the methods by which society should be organized, our skewed perspective lends us towards ignoring a very pertinent reality. Society is necessarily a collective.

Every attempt to achieve more and more liberty in our lives, is actually an attempt to project a value system, that of free will and just property rights, on each other person in the collective that is society. A society I may add, that has never existed before and never will exist again except in that moment of time which it is measured. Each relationship, each personality, each individual value is entirely unique to that moment.

It would be more accurate to say, Man is born naked into the world where there is already a system by which all members of society govern their relationships with one another.

It is for this reason that an attempt to achieve a utilitarian, moralistic, libertarian Utopian system of government is essentially futile. Not because an institution could never be created by which to govern ourselves in a just and moral way. But because society is in a constant state of transformation, with each new participant in the collective. The method by which we govern our relationships, whether it be law enforced by the nation state, or voluntary community cooperation. Whether it incorporates just property rights theory, or whether it be by hierarchical institution of top down control, it is an agreement by the collective, that these are the terms by which we will live as a collective. It does not matter what shape the systematic arrangement of society takes. What matters is the code of ethics that I choose to accept to govern my own actions, and how my moral outlook effects the environments of those members of society, whom I may influence.

Searching for perfection in a system of government is like searching for perfection in a marriage. That's not how it works. We don't theorize the best way to be or to act towards each other. There is no way to codify it. To make it official. Society is a living and breathing thing. It depends upon the health of its members, the nature of the arrangement, the environment that the relationship exists in. What we believe.

And so, even if we were to arrive at a place in time, where society has accepted a more just and righteous way to arrange itself, a more moral code of law, does that mean we are done? We have succeeded? We have achieved Utopia? What if we were to destroy the nation state? Would that mean that systematic violence and predation would cease to exist?

My own personal truth is that political reality (currently a zero-sum game) is a reflection a sick society. Not an institution for control by the elite, but an agreement by society that we accept an immoral way of behaving towards each other. Just because we may evolve towards a healthier life, does not mean that we have achieved our goal. We must stay fit. We have to nourish ourselves, exercise, meditate and practice. Health is a continuous process. It is not a goal. It is a lifestyle.

This is not an apology for minarchism.

To be clear, i believe the nation state is the single most destructive, and immoral force that has existed on the planet. I have been watching the debate on the daily Paul rage on for months now. It seems advocates on both sides, minarchist and anarchist are not doing a very good job hearing each other. At the heart of the miscommunication is the way interpret the term government and state.

I subscribe to The Conquest Theory of the State. I have not been shown any instance in which a territorial state has formed except by the violent subjugation of the people of that territory by a violent parasite class. To again quote Rothbard, the state is "it is the systematization of the predatory process over a given territory."

This is not what minarchists mean by government.

One of the strongest reasons that the predatory state and the institution of the universal law have become so confused is that the state assumes authority over the rule of law in a society, for the purposes of absolving itself from it. The assumption is that without a state, there can be no set of ethics or rules by which society can organize. The reality is that this is state propaganda and ignorant of the historical realities surrounding the birth of the state. The questions that i would pose to minarchists are simply this:

Do you believe that the law should be applied equally to everyone in a society?

Do you believe I should have the right of self defense against infractions of the law?

Do you believe I have the right to contract for that defense, or organize voluntarily to ensure it?

Do you believe that the state and all of its bureaucrats should be accountable to the law, and subject to punishment and that retribution for their crimes should be demanded of them?

Do you believe that the state should have the authority to demand from me, that which I have a property right in under threat of force?

Do you believe that acting on behalf of the state, absolves the individual from consequences of breaking the law?

Could society develop in a way where adherence to a court system and participation in the victim/criminal justice process was voluntary? Did you know that it has, already, without the state?

My own personal answers to these questions are my terms for an arrangement of society that I find just. It is not what I am subject to now and I accept that. If the minarchist believes that he has the same right to defend himself against violations of the law then i ask, What purpose does the state have?

The consequence of economic incentive without societal health

The most frustrating thing in the world to me, is when I see an argument being dismissed carelessly when the person presenting the argument is quite intelligent and makes a good case. It is not the potential that the argument may be correct that frustrates me, but the unwillingness to recognize that the person presenting the argument has a different way of understanding the whole notion of the @. If everyone saw things the way we did, there would be no disagreements. It is our unwillingness to try and find the validity, "why does this bright and reasonable, intelligent human being feel this way? What does he see that I don't" in each others arguments.

The reason that minarchists take such a fierce position in the debate is because they believe they understand. Instead of assuming that they don't get it, why don't we look at what they DO get.

A purely market based legal system is extremely susceptible to corruption. The term I heard used was neo-feudalism. Without a universal legal framework, all kinds of injustices would be permitted. This is all very legitimate. If we got rid of the nation state tomorrow, what would sweep in and fill the vacuum?

Just as social contract does not protect us from abuse by the state, neither will a lack of social contract protect us from those who have access to wield resources for the purposes of control, both economically and political.

The Liberty Continuum

We cannot rely on the market to provide us with justice. We cannot rely on a political institution dedicated to preserving our liberty. We can only rely on each other. We can only rely on what we as the collective accept as the appropriate way of arranging ourselves. The collective needs each of us to help mold its opinion, and shape its perspective. We owe it to our brothers and sisters to embody the morality of liberty and foster it in whatever shape it takes.

Liberty is not something to achieve. Not an end goal. It is a continuum. It is spiritual.

Liberty is what we can strive for. It is the health of society. It is an active process. The important thing is not that we achieve freedom, but that we are concerned to always move forward on the continuum.

If an anarchist removed himself from.society, he would be an anarchist, but what positive impact would he have on achieving liberty. In order to have individual freedom, we need somebody who will respect it.

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That's a moutful.

The generally accepted authority to aggress upon myself or my property by the institution supreme political will in a given territory, under threat of force, solely because I reside there, when I have not committed an infraction of the law against my fellow citizen.

generally accepted

by who?

authority to aggress against myself and my property

property defined by who?

supreme political will in a given territory

any security force would also be the supreme force in the surrounding territory

when i have no committed an infraction of law against fellow citizen

who's law? who makes the law? citizen of what?

if you're in a community with a security and arbitration agency imposing the law the property owners agreed to, then by these definitions, this would be a state.

It's not my fault your examples aren't accurate on your own definitions. Change your definitions, or change your examples.

Here ya go

By the people in this country

As defined by me. Property rights are what results when human labor is mixed with natural resources.

Political will is the will to dominate and subjugate. I thought you were an oppenheimer guy?

The law that the state claims to enforce. For instance, if I am not allowed to steal then neither should the state be. If it is law, then it should apply to everyone. Certain people should not get special exemptions or privileges.



sounds like collectivism... borders? what kind of anarchist are you.... whatever a majority says inside some artificial territory is binding on everyone?

property is human labor + natural stuff...
so if i don't mix my labor with the house i bought, it's not mine?

you just tossed title / transfer out the window.

did you mix your labor with the place you live? don't bullshyt me!

if you can own someone else's labor + nature, via title transfer, than that definition you gave is out the window too, and people can buy any amount of stuff they want, as long as it's been combined with laor and transferred via title.

this would mean you can own 100s of miles, if improved. if a small acre was not improved, you couldn't stop someone from squatting on it and taking ownership with any improvements.

this contradicts your earlier definition that required the land be 'in use' at all times, regardless of structures/improvements.

'will to dominate and subjugate'

well, dominate and subjugate are different.

owning your own property is dominating it.

subjugating requires you rule other people against their will. which is it?

if it's merely subjugate, then the problem is how to deal with individuals who encroach on the property you claim as yours. if they disagree with your definition, and you use force against them, you are subjugating them.

so your property claims require that you, or some gang, subjugate violators of whatever area you claim as your property.

So the problem with the definition game that you always play

Is that you can question the definition of anyword in the english language and then argue that i am not doing a good job of making my point because my definitions aren't clear. That doesn't change the fact that while my word choice may not be adequate for communicating with you(possibly because you dont speak english as a first language?), my meanings are very specific.

I am sorry i am doing such a poor job of communicating my meaning. I accept full responsibility. I should learn to do a better job being clear. I will do that. Thanks bill. Always learn something from you.


always good to be

clear, espec if using non standard definitions, or non standard snark. : )

How was the lemonade stand?


It went well. I got the table top done and a place to put the lemons/limes. Karen(My wife is going to paint the sign. We will probably finish it up next weekend. I fly tomorrow.

Did you downvote me? Bill! I never thought!!!



i dont even upvote me, let alone downvote u. non vote principle NVP

To be revisited.

I am going to get stuff to make a lemonade stand with my boys.


Good refutation

Thanks for affirming...

300 years of Icelandic statelessness.



Read the article.

I did guy...

The author is trying to make the case that the society was anarcho-socialist rather than anacho-capitalist(with two features unresolved. that of some hierarchical institutions existed, which is not substantiated, and that farmers were forced to join communes, which is unfinished and incorrect, See Kenneth Harl, - The Vikings, Lecture Nineteen The Settlement of Iceland, andLecture Twenty Iceland — A Frontier Republic).

Either way, the author of you posts blames the concentration of power and the hierarchical institutions cited earlier as the reason that iceland when from an anarchistic society to a statist society. While there will certainly be some debate about whether the authors conclusion is accurate, it serves my purpose of substantiating the claim that iceland was anarchistic in nature.


it wasn't anarchistic if the

author and his citations are correct.

You claim they're not.

In either case, the system had murder, gang warfare and slavery as the justice system, which immediately led to rule by monarchy once communism was replaced with market prices and property.

The rate of technological and social change in that era was a snalls pace, and the level of inequality permitted by technology far less than the modern capitalistic period.

The population level sustainable by communal / tribal economics was miniscule to the state/capitalism.

Not a good example.

Direct quote from the article

"It was the existence of these hierarchical elements in Icelandic society that explain its fall from anarchistic to statist society."


definitions again


the author's use of anarchism is not the same as ancap use. on ancap usage, the icelanders were not anarchists; mandatory membership in the group-gild thing, plus group-vote price setting, et al. the article is clear, and cites lots of references. we can't decide here who is right, but i have my suspicions that it aint friedman.

I have never claimed Iceland as anarcho-cap

And i don't like Friedman much. Iceland was stateless in that there were no institutions that were above the law. There was no hierarchy and no taxation.

"The early tenth- century Icelanders excluded overlords with coercive power and expanded the mandate of the assembly to fill the full spectrum of the interests of the landed free farmers"
"The close connection between political and legal success in Iceland was owing to the institutionalized concept that the government bore no responsibility for punishing an individual for breaking the law"

-The Icelandic althing. Jesse Byock

The law speaker and the gorgas were all equals under the law.

James Bryce:

"In Iceland, ... and men lived scattered in tiny groups round the edges of a vast interior desert, no executive powers were given to anybody, and elaborate precautions were taken to secure the rights of the smaller communities which composed the Republic and of the priest—chieftains who represented them"

Legal systems were established to contain violence. If an individual farmer did not althing decisions. He was not attached and thrown in prison, he just wasn't afforded the protection of the community.


yet a new definition of state/stateless

and round and round goes the equivocation merry go round.

on the ancap/nap/voluntarist definition, not stateless.

stick w one definition.


The systematization of the predatory process over a given territory.

This is the sixth time I have said this to you.

When you are having a discussion, some things have to be assumed. I cannot explain state to you, except to say "the systematization of the predatory process in a given territory", because I do not understand it in terms that are more familiar to you.


Thats a dif def than your

previous comment, about hierarchy, taxes, above the law, etc.

Also, not the def used by ancap, which is any group using aggression (force not in self defense).

You jump from def to def of many words, so it gets confuzzled.

Try this article,


Very detailed accounts of lots of violations of NAP.

Compulsory membership, exile from the country, etc., bans on sexual practices.

By equivocating on dif definitions state, you are able to jump between dif definitions of anarchism, as the term is used differently by different self described anarchists.

One persons anarchist is anothers statist.

Civil law

"The juries, typically composed of 36 citizens, only decided the issue of guilt, once this was decided the penalty was stipulated by the law.24 There were no judges in the Commonwealth system. Customary Law of the Commonwealth was a private or civil law, in that all cases were disputes between citizens. As Gissurarson says:
"In the Icelandic Commonwealth almost all law was what we would now call civil law and, consequently, all court cases were civil cases, that is an individual pitted against an individual. In other words, there were no criminal offenses, that is the state, or the public, prosecuting an individual." (Gissurarson 1990:16)" - Straight from your article.

The exile and banishment was Anglo Saxon law and used as a reference. The only confiscation was as retribution for private offense. Penalty for public offense was outlawry, much akin to terminating a defense contract. There was no state to prosecute the felon, they were just no longer covered under the law.

I want you to pay particular attention to the definition of criminal offenses, again pulled directly from the article you introduced. You will never be able to understand statelessness without making that distinction.



exhibit a. Compulsory Hreppur membership / social insurance / fees and dues / payments for neighbors' losses in fire, livestock death, etc.

"The Hreppur was essentially a "club", although membership was compulsory for all residents of the "club" area. This monopoly status of the Hreppur can also explain why it was able to provide both public and private goods, or social and private insurance. By tying private and public goods a "club" may be better at attracting customers (Klein 1987;Cowen and Kavka 1990), although as mentioned, membership in the Hreppur was compulsory in Iceland.11"

"The Hreppur was geographical in jurisdiction, while the Þing was not. Once a farm had joined a given Hreppur, its affiliation could not be changed. The farmer, on the other hand, could legally change his alliance to another chieftain, and therefore another Þing, once each year."

exhibit b. Courts and hierarchy of authority up the legal chain to a final arbiter of disputes

"The next step in the development of the institutional structure was the formation of the general assembly, the Alþing. With this development the whole population of the country began to become united under one body of law, referred to as "our law" (vár lög). At the same time the court system was becoming more formalized. Procedural rules embodied in a constitution were being established.

...First, the Alþing served as a Law-Council. Second, the Alþing served as the highest court. To begin with the Law-Council likely acted as a court also but after 965 the court at the Alþing was divided into Fjórðungsdóma, or Quarter-Courts. These corresponded to the lower level Fjórðungsþings, but were seemingly established at the Alþing, and the former became abandoned. The Alþing formed around 930, and the structure established in the period 930-965 remained more or less the same until the fall of the Commonwealth. One change took place in the period 1004-1030; the Fimmtardómur, or the Fifth-Court, was added. This court became the final court, in some respects like a supreme court. It became responsible for unresolved cases and procedural cases, such as cases involving perjury or the bribing of jurors."

exhibit c. Jurors were appointed by chieftains

"The establishment of the Quarter-Courts made juries more "national" in character, since now all the chieftains appointed jurors for the Quarter-Courts.17 Each Quarter-Court was assigned the task of resolving cases from their particular quarter."

exhibit d. Majority vote rule at the highest court

"The third level was the Fifth-Court, and in this court a simple majority was required for a decision."

exhibit e. Centralized federalism

"What emerged in Iceland was a form of federalism.20 In some sense this structure is centralized, in that by the 960s "Our Law" defined the whole structure and in that the Law Council could restructure parts of the whole system."

exhibit f. Chieftains decided what the law was by voting

"Only the chieftains had the right to vote to decide what the law was."

exhibit g. Outlawry is a form of public sanction and penalty

"...the penalty of outlawry is a form of public sanction."

exhibit h. Official religion

"The country was divided equally on the issue of religion, and yet Christianity was approved as the official religion in the year 1000."

exhibit i. Legal regulation of sexual behavior

"The medieval Icelandic laws....limited ordeal to cases of paternity, adultery, and incest or marriage in violation of the prohibited degrees of kinship."

exhibit j. Exile from the whole country, and death (Outlawry)

"A person sentenced to lesser outlawry was required to leave the country, the protection of "Our Law," for three years. Someone sentenced to greater outlawry was to leave the country permanently, and could be rightfully killed after three months.

...Both types of outlaws lost their property, which was distributed by the Féránsdómur."

When a minarchist says a community should be able to expel a person, take their property, and put them outside legal protection (i.e., violate the NAP against them), anarchists claim this is invalid. But when Icelanders do it, it's kewl.

exhibit k. Public funding of law enforcement beyond the amount of damages on the victim, paid for from the stolen property of the accused/convicted party

"If the property of the outlaw was valued at more than the victim had a right to, complicated rules governed the distribution of what remained. The distribution of the remainder was so arranged as to provide incentives, usually monetary incentives, for others in society to see that the enforcement of the judgement was carried out."

exhibit l. Public punishment of people for violating democratically decided laws

"Violations for which outlawry was the penalty were both private and public offenses. The private element of the offence were dealt with through confiscation; public offence was dealt with by the penalty of outlawry. The public element of the offence was the violation of "Our Law". This is illustrated by the obligation of the plaintiff to execute a full outlaw brought before him;42 the plaintiff who refused faced the possibility of being outlawed himself for threatening "Our Law".


And when anyone can take the law into his own hands and enforce it at his will, it is called anarchy. Unless it is Iceland, and then it is called minarchism.

Exhibit No State:

"Enforcement of judgments was private, in that the victim was responsible for enforcing a judgement in his favour. In most cases the law specified when payment of a judgement should take place, and failure to pay on time was itself a criminal offense. To make the system more effective, the payment of a judgment usually required witnesses or consultation with the aggressor's chieftain, and, in addition, the victim could sell his judgement to someone stronger than himself."


Like so many of my interlocutors

you've given away the game to score a point.

If anarchism is merely the absence of a tax enforcing state apparatus, and has no moral content; no ethics, no NAP, no rights enforcement, no freedom from coercion -- then you are free to it. Call it anarchism, if you wish. Has nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion the DailyPaul has been engaged in.

If this is the criteria, then Jan was absolutely right in characterizing the first half a million years of hominid existence as anarchy. If that is what you're advocating, fine. But realize it is of no interest to anyone who wants to pursue a social system that can sustain billions of people, not just small tribes at or near subsistence.

My point was merely to demonstrate that law without the state,

Can, and has existed. The more we study Iceland the more we realize that it was a fairly effective model with a 300 year history, and none of the baggage that comes with a state(foreign and domestic over extension, wars, poverty, etc...).

I never said their laws were perfect. I just demonstrated that it was possibility. Were there blood fueds, and squabbles between individuals and sometimes groups? Yes. But only small stuff compared to the mountains of corpses the large scale military conflicts in Europe were producing.

Small tribes at mere subsistence, huh. Almost the entirety of Scandinavian mythology and culture was preserved in the writings Icelandic poets!

The prose edda, as well as damn near all the sagas and legends! Not to mention numerous other technological achievements, oh yeah! And the discovery of America!

Everything you know about the Vikings comes from Iceland. I would stop being butt hurt and start being thankful.

So yes, societies can organize without the state. They can make laws and enforce them with a fair degree of reliability. This was my point. Would I have the exact same system? Not at all. But if you were arguing for a republic(I don't know why you would, republics lead to enormous imperial expansion and inevitably collapse, devastating huge percentages of populations), and somebody said it can never work, would you not say that Rome lasted for over 400 years?

Well then he might argue "Ugh, the Romans had a law saying that deformed babies should be killed immediately! Do you not care about babies? what kind of sick government are you proposing."

How would you handle that argument. I suggest that you would stop having it. The Icelandic system, albeit imperfect, is an example of law with the state. Why then can't we argue to create better laws and a better stateless society? As they say at AA, take what you want and leave the rest.

Brings me back to my original point. The system that we use to organize will never be perfect. New people equal new ideas, new desires, etc... All systems fail eventually because societies' priorities change. My goal is to achieve as much liberty as I can in my lifetime. For myself and my family. But even lets say we do away with the state, it is not over. There is still work to do. There is to keep it that way.


Well you should need not have gone through

such trouble. There were laws of a sort of the tens of thousands of years of savagery. Point granted.

As for the Norse, I head read much of their literary output as a young teen and always admired the culture and its ethos.

But their story has no bearing on anarchocapitalism, NAP, or these intra-libertarian discussions.

Once the icelanders began the inevitable, slow process of wealth concentration, the law passed onto the hands of owners.

That process is today at a fever pitch, nothing like the era of Viking egalitarian / guild socialism.

I think 300 years of statelessness has a huge amount of

Bearing on discussions about whether or not a society can function without a state.

That is the main argument, right? Can we get rid of the state and still have law, predictable outcomes, etc?

The answer is yes. And once we get rid of the state, we can institute laws akin to what would pass muster with the NAP. I will grant you this: Statism will never be completely wiped out, as long as there are human beings on this earth to organize. That was the point of the OP. But we can work achieve it little bits at a time. Maybe a pocket here and there. Eventually a large enough territory where we might get to reap the benefits of statelessness at an industrial level.

But it won't be legal systems that will ensure it. It will be attitudes.


Why stop at 300?

You can chalk up a million years to humanoid statelessness, if ethics and rights protection is no object.

If however they are the focus, then all of my objections stand, and statelessness alone is of no value.

Are you suggesting that the system of organization

Employed by the Icelandic commonwealth was completely void of any ethical consideration or basic rights protection?


I think

they had their sense of values and independence, but it was more a sense of power and independence, permitting NAP violations, and less a system of mutually binding ethics. It was a practical system for its time and place, but has no bearing whatsoever on modern economic, technological and ideological conditions. I think between ourselves at least we can admit neither of us are vikings. Well, Smudge and seth might not admit it, but we can. David Friedman sure as shyt isn't.

You are absolutely right

They were not concerned with NAP, in terms of the rules they set for themselves. What does impress me about their system is that they created a system that was decentralized to the individual.

Just for the record, this is the model of government that I envisioned, while I was sleeping in my rack, on deployment in the middle of the Arabian gulf. And this is before I started learning about Scandinavian culture and history(or rothbardianism for that matter). I will sum up the train that led me here:

Postal service is fine, as long as it pays for itself through market activity

Any social program government wants to engage in including welfare is fine, as long as they pay for it through market enterprise...

Government should be subject to the same laws as every individual

They should be allowed to do everything an individual is allowed to do

They should not be allowed to do anything an individual is not allowed to do

police should enforce laws equally on all, and should be funded by government revenue earned in the market

Any citizen should be allowed to enforce all law.

Why do we need police, if all law can be enforced by anyone, and funded through market activity.

Courts juries, and judges should be voluntary positions

If the citizens are the government, enforce the laws, etc... What is the purpose of government?

Government is for foreign policy

Foreign policy should be determined by representation of the general citizenry through a Republican system where they are chosen by voluntary democratic election.

What about people who chose not to participate? Did not claim allegiance to the government?

long as law was enforced and standard amongst populations multiple governments could exist within the same territory and there would be minimal interference, because law would be enforced equally across the board...

I know, I know, it is very immature. Remember, this is when I was a kid, serving my country, fighting for freedom and democracy in the middle east.

I will say that when I learned of Rothbard's an-cap theory about 5 years later, my mind was completely blown. I agree, I don't believe that the market would provide sufficient protection from coercion. I believe it must be voluntarily accepted amongst the vast majority of a population, that these are the laws that must be respected. I think government will be non-territorial and voluntary. And k believe eventually it will not be funded by taxes, and its legal system of property rights will be modeled after the most accurate scientific theory of economics, that of the Austrian school.

I know I am opening a can of worms here. We can continue this on another thread. I was just in the mood to share. Bill, you are a good friend. I meant it when I said you were one of my favorite posters